US Department of Defense asked US Congress to extend the period of operation of Russian-produced RD-180 rocket engines until 2022 in order to perform launches on behalf of the armed forces and intelligence services. It was stated by the head of US Air Force Space Command, General John Hyten, Voenno-promishlenniy Courier reports.
He said that Pentagon has already officially asked the Congress to make changes in a law passed last December; the law requires the US armed forces to replace RD-180 engines with American analogues by 2019. US Ministry of Defense insists on extending operation of RD-180 engines by four years, the General explained.
According to him, “we offered the Congress a text, which can guide us through 2018-2022 period”. “We asked the Congress to change the text” of the law in order to let United Launch Alliance (USA) use a contract for purchase of RD-180 engines in Russia, which “wasn’t paid in full”, when the debates related to further usage of the engine by Pentagon were started in Washington, Hyten added.
He believes that extending the operation of RD-180 engines until 2022 will allow solving problems related to development of US engine and its integration with a launch vehicle. Pentagon “is not asking for further extensions, because at this stage (in 2022) the US industry should become competitive”, in other words, it should complete development of the indigenous engine and replace RD-180, he explained.